Merewether's Jackson Baker got to work late in his heat on Thursday to join clubmate Philippa Anderson on finals day at the Great Lakes Pro.
Baker was last in his four-man round-of-32 heat and in danger of bowing out at the 1000-point qualifying series contest at Boomerang Beach.
Needing a 5.34 to jump into the top two and progress, the powerful natural-footer found the right wave inside the final three minutes.
However, Baker had to work hard to ride out of the whitewash and complete his final move, ensuring he earned a 6.4.
He rose to a 13.07 best two-wave total to finish second to Tully Wylie (13.1) and ahead of Noah Stocca (12.03) and Jacob Willcox (12) in a nail-biter.
He had an easier time at the contest either side of that heat, winning his round of 64 heat with a 14.57 total and finishing a clear second in his round of 16 contest with 15.53.
He faces Jordan Lawler in the quarter-finals on Friday.
In the women's event, Anderson is up against Alysse Cooper in her quarter-final.
She was second in her round of 32 and last 16 clashes with scores of 11 and 11.5.
Baker and Anderson are starting their 2021 qualifying series campaign and also using the event to prepare for their chance on the championship tour at home in April.
The pair have secured wildcards for the new CT contest at Newcastle, which kicks off the four-event Australian leg of the tour. Complications from COVID restrictions have meant the traditional Snapper Rocks and Bells Beach events have been cancelled.